Some links to products and partners on this website will earn an affiliate commission.
Given how easy it is to widely search everything travel-related online these days, it is little surprise that websites are having to do more to compete. In the hotel sector, this has manifested itself in the form of price match guarantees. This is where the website will undertake to match any price found cheaper elsewhere.
Now, assuming that two competing websites are offering the same room, there seems little point in booking a more expensive rate. Most people would simply book at the cheaper place. However, there are some circumstances where it might be worthwhile to pay more. While best rate guarantees may well form part of this rationale, there could be more to it than just that, as I explain below…
I was looking for a hotel in the small French ski resort of Auron for two nights in January. Having been there before, I know that there are not many hotels (certainly no chain ones) and most people tend to hire apartments and stay for more than just a couple of days.
My system for booking a hotel tends to be that I will search for IHG, Hilton and Accor properties first followed by a search on an aggregator such as hotels.com and then the individual hotel. I do this because I am more likely to be able to use points and will also earn status benefits by booking direct with the chains rather than through a third party site.
Then I checked their own website and the same room was €100 per night (€200 for the stay). Both offered the same room and the same cancellation terms. And yet I’ve booked the more expensive option!
How I benefited from the MORE EXPENSIVE rate
There were three initial reasons that paying more worked better for me:
- By using TopCashback (read about the joys of TopCashback here), I was able to secure an 11% rebate on the transaction, but as with any cashback site you have to take that with a pinch of salt as they can be issues with tracking payment in a small number of cases.
- Hotels.com run their own loyalty scheme. For every 10 nights you get one free. In reality, you get a credit for the average cost of your room to be used on your booking
- It makes it easier to manage by having all my bookings in the same place, and I like the interface of hotels.com.
The cash back should take the price down to €198, and the ‘free night points’ will give me an average of €20 toward a future purchase.
And the clincher – the Best Rate Guarantee
However, the final bonus is the price match guarantee. If you can find the same hotel with the same conditions on the same date for less, hotels.com will price match. You can’t compare a standard room with a deluxe one, or room only to half board, but like for like is easy. All you need to do is book with hotels.com, upload a screenshot of the cheaper rate for your dates and complete their simple online form.
I got a response within 24 hours confirming the price match; I was asked to submit the receipt from the hotel once I’d checked out and €16.80 will refunded, which is the €20 difference in price minus the €3.20 room taxes that would be charged – a little cheeky, I know, but as it is a “pay at hotel” rate I am not even temporarily out of pocket, so I am not complaining!
I paid €220, but with my cash back and price match, I’ll end up paying less than €180 (rather than €200 for booking the direct, “cheaper” rate) and have €20 towards the cost of a free night – not bad for taking the more expensive option!